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08.03.2008 Politics

Capitalise on controversy to clean voters register

By Daily Graphic
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Ghanaians should use the controversy arising from the alleged bloated register in 13 constituencies in the Ashanti Region as an opportunity to thoroughly clean up the voters register, the Dean of the Faculty of Social Studies of the University of Ghana, Legon, Professor Joseph Ayee, has advised.

According to him, the country had been operating with bloated registers since 1992 as a result of the absence of a good database, poor updating of the register and registration by nationals of other countries to vote in our elections.

"The voters register has been bloated over the years. The problem is that we do not have good information on the voting population," he told the Daily Graphic on Friday.

Prof. Ayee advised officials of the various political parties not to be belligerent in discussing election issues but rather "work towards accepting the outcome of the election results".

For instance, he said, all the political parties could collaborate with the Electoral Commission (EC) towards having a credible voters register by encouraging people to have the names of their dead relatives deleted from the register, get those who just attained 18 to register and discourage the registration of nationals of other countries.

Besides, Prof. Ayee said, the parties could team up to help in the training of election officials and ensure order during voting and the counting of votes.

"The parties should iron out their differences and ensure that the electoral process is on course," he stressed.

The political scientist said the voters register was an important aspect of the electoral process and indicated that a bloated register could give a false impression of real voters.

He said if people doubted the credibility of the register, they might not agree with election results and that might result in violence.

Prof. Ayee noted that the absence of national identity cards was a contributory factor to the bloated voters register, since nationals of neighbouring countries with similar features as Ghanaians could be mistaken for Ghanaians and allowed to register.

He, therefore, stressed the need for national ID cards to be issued to facilitate the registration of voters, adding that "the national ID cards will enable us to clean the voters register".

Prof. Ayee said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was not the first political party to raise issues over the voters register and noted that other political parties had, at different times, raised one concern or another.

He, therefore, called for an objective look at the issue.

Prof. Ayee said the fact that the NDC had raised issue with the register "shows that the political parties are alive to their task", and that the fact that the EC could give information out upon request was a "healthy sign of democracy".

On President Kufuor's challenge to the EC to ensure credible elections, Prof. Ayee said the call was "very important and reassuring" in line with current developments on the alleged voters register. Besides, he said, the call re-echoed what people said of the EC and it would consequently make the commission alive to its responsibilities.

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